My daughter, when she was small, referred to the people I interacted with via blogs and social media as “imaginary friends” because unlike those I know in real life, who she can see and know too, these people live only on a screen she couldn’t quite read and in my conversations.
I suppose in many ways her assessment is correct. You can’t know always know people unless you have some tangible connection with them in real time and space.
But I have and continue to view many of those I have only met through their words, and possibly their pictures, as my friends.
And, of course, because I met my husband online and he was “imaginary” at one point, I will likely always maintain that real bonds can be virtually constructed.
Because of this, it’s easy to forgot the limitations of the written word.
As a writer, I try to choose the words I type with care. I am aware that they lack nuance and vehicles like Twitter, for instance, further handicap conversation with character limits.
Try as I might, and being aware of the possible pitfalls, I am still always surprised when imaginary people disappoint.
The fault is mine. I fill in gaps that if we knew each other in person wouldn’t be gaps.
I trust too much.
A lesson I haven’t fully learned even well into my second decade online.
I am not totally discouraged, and this too shall pass, but it’s a reminder that my imagination hasn’t grown up with the rest of me. It still sees the world as rosy and resplendent, and people as hopeful possibilities.
4 thoughts on “Imaginary Friends”
Since I started blogging in 2007 or so, I’ve had about a dozen face-to-face meet ups with people who had been “imaginary” – met through words. Other than one glaring nightmare, in every case I found these imaginary friends to be as I expected – often odd to hear a voice for the first time, see mannerisms and all that.
The key is that they write authentically… What has skewed things? Social media! Like most people, I do not air my poo-poo undies on the book of faces… if one were to assess my life based on my posts and interactions out there? It’s the classic highlight reel… I have darkness, messiness and disappointments just as most humans, but I don’t hang it out there.
That’s what the blog was for! Given the schedule of late, I’m woefully behind out there… and have found my recent posts to be nothing more than reporting events, rather than capturing my feelings. I need to get back to writing… I’m overdue! That’s how I made the best imaginary friends!
It’s hard to be authentic in 140 characters. Often you end up editing yourself out.
You need to really blog Turkey.
The best imaginary friends met in the blogosphere or on the message boards where your fingers can really roam the keyboard.
I never started Twitter just for that reason – it’s about being concise and clever, and neither are my strengths! I’ve got a two parter drafted covering the wedding in Turkey — but it reads like a bad travelogue right now. I need to edit the crap out of them and put in what it felt like, and how it all feels… maybe if I ever stop with the travel…